Description & Technical information

In the 1750s Desfriches made a number of drawings of the construction of a new bridge over the river Loire at Orléans. The work on the bridge - first known as the Pont Royal, later as the Pont National and today known as the Pont George V - was supervised by the engineer Robert Soyer (1717-1782), ingénieur des ponts et chaussées and a close friend of the artist.

As Desfriches’s great-grandson and biographer Paul Ratouis de Limay, a previous owner of this drawing, noted, ‘the ingénieur des ponts et chaussées Soyer was charged with the construction of the Pont d'Orleans...he is celebrated and Desfriches soon counts him among his best friends...Wishing to please his new friend, Desfriches drew, between 1750 and 1760, several Views of the Construction of the Pont d'Orleans, animated by a host of little characters, which reveal a remarkable suppleness and a precision in the use of chalk.’

Another, larger drawing by Desfriches of the construction of the bridge at Orléans, which shared the same provenance as the present sheet until 1963, is today in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans. A number of other drawings of the construction of the bridge are in private collections.

The present sheet has remained with Desfriches’s descendants until recently, having belonged to the artist’s daughter, Félicité-Perpétue Desfriches (1745-1834), the wife of Jean Cadet de Limay. It then passed to Marie-Clotilde Cadet de Limay, who married Alexis Ratouis, and thence to their sons, Henri Ratouis de Limay (1863-1951) and Paul Ratouis de Limay (1881-1963).

Date:  1750s
Period:  1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Black chalk, Brown ink, Laid on mount
Dimensions: 16.8 x 33.7 cm (6⁵/₈ x 13¹/₄ inches)
Provenance: The artist, Aignan-Thomas Desfriches, Orléans
His wife, née Marie Madeleine Bufferau
By descent to their daughter, Félicité-Perpétue Desfriches, wife of Jean Cadet de Limay
By descent to their granddaughter, Marie-Clotilde Cadet de Limay, wife of Alexis Ratouis
Their sons, Henri Ratouis de Limay and Paul Ratouis de Limay
By descent to Mme. Paul Ratouis de Limay, Neuilly-sur-Seine
Thence by descent until 2016.

Literature: André Jarry, ‘Essai de catalogue de l’oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé de Desfriches’ in Paul Ratouis de Limay, Un amateur Orléanais au XVIIIe siècle: Aignan-Thomas Desfriches (1715-1800). Sa vie, son oeuvre, ses collections, sa correspondance, Paris, 1907, p.189.

Exhibitions: Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans, Exposition A.-T. Desfriches (1715-1800), 1965-1966, no.190 (lent by Mme. Paul Ratouis de Limay).

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints